Gulf oil spill forces job changes for some shrimpers

Gulf oil spill forces job changes for some shrimpers

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When asked if he makes more driving the airboat or shrimping, Mike McWilliams said, "It depends. If the shrimp are running good, that pays more than this." When asked if he makes more driving the airboat or shrimping, Mike McWilliams said, "It depends. If the shrimp are running good, that pays more than this."

By DENAE D'ARCY
6 News Anchor/Reporter

BAY BOURBEUX, La. (WATE) - The situation for fishermen in the Gulf is dire after the oil spill and some have new employers that have created new jobs.

In the Louisiana bayou, most people work on boats.

"The closer it got to shrimping season, the more trouble we had, "said Mike McWilliams, who's been shrimping for two decades.

McWilliams' career came to a grinding halt in April and some of his co-workers have no other prospects.

Some of the shrimpers quit school at age 12 and have few qualifications to do something else for a living.

"Most people, that's all they know. They've been on the boats since they were eight years old. They don't know nothing else," McWilliams said.

To add insult to injury, McWilliams had to trade his shrimp boat for an airboat.

Instead of harvesting, he now goes out on the water each day to view the devastation as a guide for BP,  the company that accidentally took away his livelihood.

When asked if he makes more driving the airboat or shrimping, McWilliams said, "It depends. If the shrimp are running good, that pays more than this."

Beyond the money, McWilliams enjoys being on a fishing boat working hard with his crew.

Now he spends time with strangers and wonders if it will be safe to shrimp in the waters even after years of cleanup.

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